I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. — Hosea 12:10
Growing up in our church, I have many memories of object lessons that were presented in the primary and junior departments during Sunday school time. The teacher giving the lesson would often display a common item and then explain how the item revealed something important about our spiritual lives or our relationship with God.
As a child, I enjoyed these object lessons, but as I grew up I began to feel that object lessons were just for kids with short attention spans, or for young minds that could not grasp abstract ideas. After all, teachers of the adult classes rarely incorporated object lessons into their Sunday school sessions.
However, I’ve learned that we should not dismiss object lessons as juvenile. God himself uses common human experiences to speak His truth to human hearts. In Hosea 12:10, God revealed to His chosen people that He spoke to them in “similitudes” through the prophets. The Book of Hosea is full of metaphors and similes, and the prophet himself became a living object lesson to the nation of Israel.
The metaphors and similes used by Hosea and the other prophets were not primitive symbolic language reserved for Old Testament times. When Jesus taught, as recorded in the New Testament gospels, He spoke in parables and said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” Christ compared His kingdom to a seed, a net, a pearl, etc. When trying to communicate deep spiritual truths, Jesus used object lessons!
Do you wish that God would speak to you? God speaks through His marvelous Word, the Holy Bible, but He also speaks to us through our common, everyday experiences. As you open your heart and mind to God’s messages contained in your life experiences, it may become difficult to find a time when God is not speaking to you!
In the last four chapters of the book, Hosea’s theme is the intense love God had for Israel. From the nation’s beginning, God’s love for Israel was like that of a parent for a willful child. Consequently, He sent discipline when the people turned away from Him. His prophets tried to instruct them, but they rejected the message and served Baalim. God treated them with love, provided for them, healed them, and lifted their burdens, but they would not see or acknowledge this.
Because of Israel’s stubbornness, judgment was impending. Two hundred years after the Northern Kingdom broke off from Jerusalem, it was conquered by the Assyrian leader, Shalmaneser. Yet God, through Hosea, expressed His reluctance and sadness at punishing His child. Admah and Zeboim had been cities of the plain which were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 14:8; Genesis 19; Deuteronomy 29:23). There had been no covenant between God and those cities, but there was a covenant between God and Israel. God’s heart was torn, and verses 9-11 of chapter 11 give a promise that there would eventually be restoration.
Hosea 11:12 contrasts the evil kings of the Northern Kingdom with the good kings of the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Hezekiah and Josiah were the most notable of Judah’s good kings, but Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, and Jotham also did right in God’s sight. The result was that the nation of Judah survived between 130 to 150 years longer than the Northern Kingdom, and a remnant of them eventually returned from captivity and rebuilt the Temple.
All twelve tribes of Israel were descendents of Jacob. Hosea reminded them of Jacob’s birth and his wrestling with the angel. Although Jacob had many weaknesses, he sought God. In contrast, Israel sought false gods.
Israel took on the Canaanite methods of doing business, which were deceitful and oppressive. Yet, the people of Israel were proud and thought their dishonesty and corruption would not be discovered. They thought their prosperity was a result of their own abilities and efforts.
Verse 9 of chapter 12 referred to the Feast of Tabernacles. At this annual occasion, the people of Israel lived in tents for a week to remind them of the time their forefathers spent in the wilderness. The message was that continuing in their own ways could result in them living in tents again, rather than in comfortable homes. God had sent many prophets to warn His people of how to escape the predicted doom and judgment. He wanted Israel to show gratitude, but instead the people were rebellious. Punishment was the impending consequence.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The prophet’s message
B. Jehovah’s retribution upon Israel
3. The compassion of Jehovah (11:1-11)
a. Love revealed (11:1-4)
b. Love refused (11:5-7)
c. Love repeated (11:8-11)
4. The crimes against Jehovah
a. The deceit of Israel (11:12)
b. The alliances of Israel (12:1)
c. The injustice of Israel (12:2-8)
d. The hardness of Israel (12:9-11)
e. The ingratitude of Israel (12:12-14)
As you go about your daily tasks this week, contemplate what the Holy Spirit might be trying to reveal to you. What eternal lessons does God reveal as you drive your car, wash the dishes, or place a call on your cell phone? All of life can be a schoolmaster drawing you to Christ — are you ready to be a good student looking for life’s “object lessons?”